Mary Ward: Prophetic Woman

18 AUGUST 2017


Address given by Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ

To download a Spanish translation of this talk, click here.

One of the most fruitful plot lines in fantasy fiction is that of time travel, where a character from the future or from the past suddenly finds herself transported into another era.  A few weeks ago I had a similar experience, not by being whisked off in a time machine to another period, but by attending a meeting of the CJ English province council in the Great Parlour of the Bar Convent here in York.  We sat and talked of province business surrounded by portraits of our early sisters in varying forms of seventeenth and eighteenth-century dress.

Mary Ward’s companions gazed down on us from their portraits, each one a key figure in the making of a heritage in which we participate as the global gathering of friends of Mary Ward today in twenty-first-century York.  They would have been amazed to see us all: people of every colour and nationality, women and men, sharing Mary Ward’s prophetic vision in ways that they could barely have imagined in their own day.  Some of them, like Sir Thomas Gascoigne and Frances Bedingfield, wanted education for girls long before female education was normally available, sharing in that vision for a different world in the future.  Others, like Cecily Cornwallis or Elizabeth Coyney, were not able to stand the test of prophetic challenge in their own time, and made decisions that were driven by a fear and anxiety that were completely alien to Mary Ward herself.  Not everyone who inherits a prophetic vision is able to live it. But as Mary’s life testifies, God’s designs are not easily thwarted by our lack of courage or creativity, and although it would be many centuries before her vision for the church and for society would be fully realised, here we all are, witnesses to the enduring nature of her pioneering struggle.

We are all familiar enough with Mary Ward’s story for me not to need to retell it in detail. I want instead to begin by asking a question.  What is the difference between a tradition and a living heritage?  The painter Pablo Picasso once said, ‘Tradition means having a baby, not wearing your grandfather’s hat’.  By this I think he meant that simply venerating a story from the past and even copying some of its key features is not enough to keep a tradition alive.  If we are to honour the tradition of Mary Ward, we will need to reflect on what it means to share in her living heritage.  We will need to ask ourselves how that heritage is relevant for the issues and challenges of our own time.  We must ask ourselves what belonged to Mary Ward’s own lifetime and what there is in her prophetic vision that is still waiting to be realised by each of us in our own context.

Others will talk during this conference about current and future perspectives on Mary Ward.  I want to concentrate on the way in which she found an autonomous, authentic identity, a voice and mobility: things that to a large extent were denied to women of her time.  They are still denied, though in different ways, to many women and men of today.  Poverty, lack of access and opportunity, prejudice of all kinds can prevent people from flourishing within society.  Even here in England, where the majority of people have a level of social and economic security denied to many in the global south, our newspapers have recently been full of headlines about women in the BBC being paid less than men for doing the same job.  Women in time to come may indeed do much, but they still won’t be paid the same for doing so!

It is significant that the papal bull Pastoralis Romani Pontificis was nailed to the doors of St. Peter’s and elsewhere in Rome in 1631 on May 31st, which in our day is the feast of the Visitation.  On this day we remember the song of Mary of Nazareth, speaking about the reversal of established structures of power, ‘He pulls down princes from their thrones and raises the lowly’(Luke 1:52).  Mary’s Magnificat is the triumphant song of the least significant person within a forgotten and oppressed people.  She sings of the God of surprises who reverses the established order and brings to birth something utterly unexpected among God’s faithful people.  On her deathbed near here in Heworth, Mary Ward urged her sisters not to mourn but to praise God and sing.  Her own Magnificat might well also have sung of the God of surprises, though I think even she would have been surprised to see us all here today.

Pope Urban’s Bull speaks of the grave offence done to the church and Christian civilization by Mary Ward and her followers who ‘have been accustomed to attempt and to employ themselves at […] works which are most unsuited to maidenly reserve – works which men of eminence […] undertake with much difficulty and only with great caution.’

The outrages mentioned by the Bull include a claim to a public voice and to mobility on the part of women who had discerned a call to religious life and ministry outside the monastic enclosure.  So toxic and dangerous did church and society consider the presence in the public forum of such women to be that the Bull decrees ‘the poisonous growths in the Church of God must be torn up from the roots lest they spread themselves further […] we wish and command all the Christian faithful to regard and repute them as suppressed, extinct, rooted out, destroyed and abolished’.[1]

It’s just as well for me and for all the Mary Ward sisters in this room that Pope Urban’s wish and command were to remain unfulfilled.  Mary Ward stands as an icon for women’s struggle down the centuries to claim their legitimate voice and space as leaders with a God-given capacity for doing great things. She shares this iconic status with that other great member of the Mary Ward family, Teresa Ball.

In their different ways and contexts, Mary and Teresa’s lives were both initially characterized by conformity to the ideals of social and religious enclosure of women that were prevalent in their day. Both made enormous and unexpected steps away from these norms and ideals in order to fulfil God’s plan. In Mary Ward’s case, a remarkable process of personal conversion transformed the shy recusant, whose life was marked by hiding, immobility and silence into a trailblazing pioneer.   It was a process marked by setbacks and failures, a journey to discover the truth of God’s will amid the violence of anti-Catholic political pressure and the lies, deceptions and honest prejudices of some of those to whom she turned for spiritual guidance.

Attempts to suppress and extinguish Mary Ward’s pioneering vocation took many forms.  There was the canonical suppression of the order itself.  There was also the suppression of Mary Ward’s voice as an original writer and speaker.  Her authentic voice comes to us principally through her letters, written both openly and in secret code.  Many of Mary’s letters and papers were destroyed by her own sisters who traded fidelity to her vision for a submission and obedience to later papal sanctions which bought them security.  It’s easy for us to blame them now, with the hindsight of history, though we can only guess at the price they paid for years of insecurity and disapproval.  The criticisms of Mary and the way of life she spread among Europe’s women were bitter and relentless.  In the Informatio of archpriest William Harrison in 1621 we find a litany of complaints against women who undertake apostolic work despite, as women, lacking any capacity for it.  They dare to speak in public on religious matters in defiance of biblical, patristic and canonical prohibitions, risking damage to their own and the Church’s reputation through their scandalously free behaviour.  Women are by nature weak, inconstant, deceitful novelty-seekers, prone to error and thousands of dangers.  These gossiping apostolic viragoes prove the point.  Mary’s biographies emphasize her outstanding personal virtues and the divine origin of her vocation, but the clergy of her day were not convinced.

Words from or about Mary Ward were dangerous both in her own lifetime and in those of subsequent generations of her followers. When in 1849 a friend in the Bar Convent sent Mother Teresa Ball some information about Mary Ward she wrote back, ‘I have read the enclosed but am not capable of judging its merits, having no knowledge of the facts.  I never was informed of the merit of Mary Ward. M. Babthorp [sic], I was told, procured the confirmation of our holy rule’.[2]  When she drafted new Constitutions in 1861 she ended with the suggestion that ‘Mother Mary Anne Barbara Bapthorp’, under whom the Bull of approval of Pope Clement XI was issued, might be regarded as the foundress of the Institute.  This burying of Mary Ward’s founding role continued across the world.  In 1877 another Loreto sister, M. Joseph Hogan, foundress of the mission in Darjeeling, wrote that when asked who founded their congregation sisters replied, ‘In Germany, Mrs Babthorpe, in England Mrs Beddingfield [sic] but my heart whispers poor, persecuted, maligned Mrs Ward’.   Mary Ward’s prophetic role was smothered and silenced by a mistaken sense of obedience and by the burial of crucial information.  It is for this reason that a sense of our living heritage is so important to us.  If we do not keep a sense of that heritage alive, we will end up wearing Mary Ward’s pilgrim hat rather than giving birth to her children of the future.

If words about Mary were silenced, images allow for a wider margin of interpretation.  Mary’s letters are full of coded names and clandestine references.  In the same way I believe that, since words proved dangerous, The Painted Life contains similarly encrypted themes and motifs.  They point to the uniqueness of her life and vision and link it with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and with the Jesuit Constitutions.  In this way the paintings both supplement and fortify the written words which hint at our Ignatian roots.

Persecuted English Catholicism at the time of Mary’s birth was marked by the absence of structure, hierarchy and regular priestly ministry.  This provided an unexpected opening for the collaboration of women with itinerant missionary priests, since they could more easily move around undetected than men.  It was this inclination to mobility, both within the city of London and later across Europe and ‘even […] the region called the Indies’, as she would later write, that was to prove the downfall of Mary and her companions.[3]  Mary records her childhood self as being so painfully shy that the silent life of the monastic cloister, though long disappeared from Protestant England, became a strong attraction.[4] The strict enclosure imposed on all nuns in the Western church by Pope Boniface VIII’s papal decree Periculoso of 1298 made it impossible for female religious to undertake works of charity outside the monastic enclosure, with the limited exception of the education of girls. The common opinion on women’s options in society was expressed in the phrase aut maritus aut murus – either a husband or a cloister.  Either the domestic or the monastic sphere provided the necessary enclosure required by the weakness of women’s minds and bodies.

As a young woman Mary had strongly internalized the notions prevalent in her day of women’s place within society and church. It was her experience of apostolic mobility in London, after two failed attempts at enclosed monastic life, which pointed the way forward to an unimagined new way of being a woman in the service of God. The powerful mystical insight of the ‘Glory Vision’, received during the banal domestic context of combing her hair, convinced her that the ‘assured good thing’ to which God was drawing her would be greatly to God’s glory.  The echoes of the Jesuit motto ad maiorem Dei gloriam are clear.  The second-century theologian Irenaeus of Lyon speaks of the glory of God being a human being fully alive.[5]  Here in the mirror, Mary finds God in all things, seeing her own image as a woman, a creature considered by Biblical literalists as being of a lower order than men, more prone to sin and temptation.  Yet within that image she beholds the glory of God contained in a call to become fully alive.  This call was to become the background to all her subsequent efforts for herself, her companions and ‘women in time to come’, struggling, as we still do today, to create a space in which women could fulfil their God-given potential. When we work to give the young, the broken, the ignored and the disenfranchised people of our world confidence in their own capacities, we are revealing to them the true glory of God.

The call of the Glory Vision was followed several years later by a mystical experience in which Mary Ward heard God command her to take the Jesuit Constitutions, with the exception of what God had prohibited on account of gender difference. Like everyone else in her era, she did not doubt that God had prohibited female ordination, but in this call she heard not a divine veto but a divine invitation for women to live a fully apostolic life.  In 1615 Mary received further spiritual confirmation in a vision of a soul returned to its original state of innocence and fully oriented towards its original purpose.  This was a human being as she was made to be, not as prevailing religious or social culture said she should be.  Mary understood from this vision that women as well as men were called to the apostolic life, capable of responding to God in a

‘singular freedom […] entire application, and apt disposition to all good works’.[6]

The three mystical insights of the Glory Vision, the call to ‘take the same’ and the vision of the Just Soul can be seen as a trajectory by which the inhibitions of Mary Ward’s upbringing gave way to an extraordinarily broad, open vision of a church and society of the future.  It is a vision which in many parts of our contemporary world and indeed of our contemporary church remains unfulfilled.  By 1616 the apostolic aims of her institute had spread from the education of girls to ‘the salvation of our neighbour […] by any other means that are congruous to the times’.[7]  As the title of Pope Boniface’s bull suggests, she was becoming periculosa, a very dangerous woman.

Some Jesuits, who had experience of women’s apostolic potential from the English mission, supported Mary’s vision.  Others, neither willing nor able to question the entrenched theological and anthropological opinions of their day, were immovably opposed.[8]  I wonder what there is in the world or the church today which we are not open to considering, because it has never been done?

The servant Margaret Garrett’s stories of religious life included that of a nun doing severe penance for having broken enclosure and her vow of chastity and become pregnant. The fear of lost virginity, ruined chastity and secret pregnancies runs through the Inquisition spies’ reports and attacks on Mary Ward with tedious regularity.  Some of the clergy accused the sisters of immorality, financial irregularity and usurping priestly functions in reports based on lurid imagination and groundless rumour.[9]  The fear of violations of discipline among women religious were extensions of a more generalized social and ecclesial opposition to women claiming speech, mobility and a public space.  These themes appear both directly and by implication in Mary Ward’s letters and more strongly in the Painted Life, in which images of enclosure and mobility, themes of withdrawal from the world and engagement with it emerge repeatedly.[10]

The paintings show a contrast between the inner enclosure and the call to a life in the public space.  Mary is frequently depicted praying in her room or lying in the enclosed space of a canopied bed while being called to a life outside.[11]  One painting recounts how she received a false message purporting to be from her father telling her to refrain from making her First Communion. The story is repeated in Mary’s early biography, the Briefe Relation.  A beloved fatherly authority sends a message which Mary has read to her, but is not permitted to see, which prevents her from receiving the sacraments.  The Briefe Relation tells of Mary tormented between the horror of disobeying her father and inconsolable grief at the thought of not making her communion. A very similar scenario would take place in 1631 while she was imprisoned by the Inquisition in Munich after the suppression of her Institute and refused the sacraments.  The Painted Life is silent on this period in her life, but the similarities between this event and that of her childhood are remarkable and I believe are suggested in painting 6.  The picture shows women enclosed within the house, or behind the fence, and the messenger on a horse, a symbol of male power and mobility, standing in the open, unenclosed space, with a church dominating a hill in the background.  The messenger holds out a piece of paper to the young Mary which determines whether or not she may receive the sacraments. Despite her agony of conscience and love of her father, the child Mary determines to follow God and receive communion.  During her later imprisonment Mary was thought to be dying.  She was offered the last sacraments only on condition that she sign a paper repenting of any possible errors.  In order to save her followers from confusion and honour a vocation given directly by God, she refused to sign.  She said that she preferred instead to cast herself on the mercies of Christ, and die without the Sacraments rather than betray her prophetic vision.  The Briefe Relation comments that while her enemies saw this as proof of her obstinacy and perversity ‘wise and prudent People knew the obligation there is for each to stand upon their own right. 

Mary delivered instead a paper of her own, passionately professing her service and obedience to the Church, and telling the Dean of Munich Cathedral, who had served her with the original paper, that if she died without the Sacraments it would be on his own conscience.  She was given the last rites shortly afterwards.[12]

Years of apostolic experience convinced Mary of the fundamental equality of women and men before God.  When a Jesuit expressed his conviction that women did not have the equal capacity to comprehend God Mary refuted this assumption, placing the lived experience of women above the theological and anthropological theories invented by men.[13] In a two-page memorandum of 1622 entitled ‘Reasons Why We May Not Alter’, Mary appealed to social changes and her sisters’ own experience, claiming the God-given freedom each person has to choose their own path and arguing that if God gives someone a vocation, no other authority should seek to deny it.

‘If it were wrong to force any private man to marry a wife whom he cannot love, much more must the election of every one’s vocation […] be free […] This is the reason […] that the King of Kings should choose his own spouses, and that God, and not man should give vocations.[14]

The Painted Life contains a recurrent theme of Mary Ward exercising speech, a right which scripture appears to deny to women.  Her claim to public speech is the basis for many of the denunciations sent to the Inquisition.[15]  The first image in the Painted Life illustrates Mary’s own story of how her first spoken word was the name of Jesus.  This name is repeated again in a later dramatic incident, restoring Mary to speech and movement.[16]   The significance of this name ending Mary’s silence was not lost on the adult Mary and her companions, struggling to remain women of speech and mobility after the manner of the Society of Jesus.  The seal which she used during the years of being superior general of the ‘Mothers of the Society of Jesus’ was copied from that of the Jesuit General Superior. One of the many causes of contention between Mary Ward and those Jesuits opposed to her was the setting up of the IHS monogram above their chapel door, marking them as members of a society that bore the name of Jesus.[17]  But Mary was adamant, refusing to accept that a name should be silenced that had been given her by God.[18]  If the name of Jesus is the first word on Mary Ward’s life it is also her last, as it was that of Teresa Ball, whose chapel at Rathfarnham was the first in Ireland to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In the words, ‘To love the poor, persevere in the same, live, die and rise with them was all the aim of Mary Ward’, engraved on her tombstone in Osbaldwick, it is not fanciful to find an encrypted reference to her ‘taking the same of the Society [of Jesus]’.[19]  From first to last Mary’s companions, whether in writing or in painting or carving, found ways to immortalize the claims implicit in her vision which dared not be spoken aloud for centuries.[20]

Mary’s experience of the abiding love of Jesus is depicted in the Painted Life which expresses in image the words of her retreat diary. She writes of a spiritual encounter with Jesus whereby, ‘He was very near me and within me, which I never perceived him to be before […] I said, “My God, what are thou?” I saw him immediately and very clearly go into my heart, and little and little hide himself in it, and there I perceive him still to be…’  There he would remain for the rest of her life.  In their younger days both Mary Ward and Teresa Ball were tormented by religious scruples and doubts about their own capacities.  Both were led through a process of discernment to a deep confidence in Jesus which enabled them to live lives of extraordinary courage and energy.

Both also suffered greatly from false accusations and power struggles with clerics unable to tolerate strong women.  One of the most comprehensive ways of silencing Mary Ward’s prophetic vision came from the reports on her which flowed into the papal and Jesuit curias and into the English government of the time.  Her enemies accuse Mary and her followers of scandalizing Catholics and rendering themselves ridiculous to heretics by aspiring to preach and teach, also teaching their pupils to act in plays so that later on they might preach from the pulpit. Mary herself is reported as being a ‘Vergine d’animo virile’, flaunting herself around in a coach, claiming to be a duchess incognita,  preaching from a chair placed in front of the altar and giving instructions on the Pater Noster.[21]  But if she claimed the power to speak she also had the power to impose silence on her enemies.  Mary Poyntz remarks that none of her powerful enemies had the courage to oppose her to her face, but pretended instead to be her friends.[22] In contrast, Mary’s generous speech to and about her enemies aroused frequent comment, although she was bold enough, even when speaking directly to the pope, to proclaim her own and her companions’ innocence and name honestly the injustice done to them.[23]

Her insistence on the importance of teaching Latin, the lingua franca of theologically and scientifically educated men, to the sisters and girls in her schools is testimony to her determination to give women of the future access to leadership through intellectual rigour.  Her contemporaries feared that women’s virtue was at risk if they became over-educated, but for her followers Mary placed the language of scholarship at equal level with the language of prayer, writing, ‘I would have Cecilia and Catherina to begin […] to learn the rudiments of Latin, fear not their loss of virtue by that means […] what time can be otherwise found besides their prayer let it be bestowed on their Latin.’[24]

In a speech to her own sisters, however, she balances women’s lack of access to the education common among Jesuits with a God-given and instinctive capacity for discernment of the truth.  She points out that ‘you see many learned men who are not perfect because they do not practise what they know nor perform what they preach.’  It is not for the reward of satisfaction that they are to seek knowledge, ‘though it be exceeding great […] but for the end it brings you to, which is God.’[25]

The living heritage of Mary Ward is above all the spirit of steadfast courage, and it is in this that her followers down the years chiefly failed. The most insidious and effective silencing of Mary Ward came at the hands of her own followers, overwhelmed by social and political pressures and a growing authoritarianism and conservatism in the Church.  As the centuries progressed, the apostolic participation of the laity was largely reduced to a passive and unthinking obedience which infiltrated even Mary Ward’s institute.  But there were sufficient sisters and friends who shared her characteristic courage and single-mindedness to ensure that the heritage remained alive.  The amazing story of the rehabilitation of Mary Ward in the nineteenth and early twentieth century is witness to this.

The Painted Life is full of scenes where Mary Ward breaks the boundaries of enclosure to follow the mysterious will of God.  Painting 4 depicts the fire in her childhood home of Mulwith, when she and her sisters sheltered within the enclosure of the home, until led to freedom outside by their father’s outstretched hand. Painting 31 shows a meditation of Mary’s in which she contemplates Jesus similarly stretching out a hand, challenging Peter to have the courage to step out of the safe enclosure of the boat onto stormy waters.  The final painting of the collection shows her at the end of her life being invited by Jesus with outstretched hand to walk with him towards her own death.  Like Peter at the lakeside, she finds that whereas in her youth she chose where she walked, now at the end of her life,                                   ‘Someone else will bind you and take you where you do not wish to go’.[26]

We have little information to help us discern to what extent these repeated themes in the Painted Life are connected or deliberate.  But the repetition of these iconic gestures speaks of Mary Ward’s courage and resilience.  She never lost faith in the potential of women to seek, find and live the truth.  She never lost faith in a God who puts forth his arm in strength, raises the lowly, fills those who hunger for a different life with good things and sends the rich, the proud and the powerful away empty.  In the biographies of both Mary Ward and Teresa Ball one scriptural reference is repeated as a major catalyst for their discernment of their personal vocation.  Each heard, at a crucial time in her life, the words, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt. 6:33). That single-minded and single-hearted determination to seek God alone was what sustained both of them in lives of faith and struggle.

The theme of mobility features strongly in the Painted Life.  Mary’s letters are full of her own movements or requests for others to set out on journeys.[27] Self-motivated and public activities were precisely what was denied to women of Mary’s time.  She is frequently portrayed as on the move: on horseback, in coaches and boats.[28]  The spies’ reports complain as much of Mary Ward and her sisters’ mobility as of their claim to speak for themselves and to others.  They are gadabouts, ‘galloping girls’, and ‘wandering gossips’, acting in contravention of the role prescribed for women in the scriptures and the restrictions placed on the mobility of female religious by the Council of Trent. [29] Painting 26 shows Mary quelling a mutiny on board a ship, her calm demeanour mirroring that of another highly mobile apostle, St. Paul, during the shipwreck in Acts 27.  The parallels to Sts. Peter and Paul are perhaps a silent way of emphasising the leadership and holiness inherent in this forbidden apostolic way for women.

The theme of suffering and martyrdom also runs through the Painted Life both in terms of Mary’s own sufferings and perhaps as a way of explaining how the sisters who survived her interpreted the Church’s opposition to her.  Like the young Teresa of Avila, the child Mary dreamed of dying heroically for her faith.  Painting 10 shows her embracing gruesome instruments of torture against a backdrop of priests being executed. Painting 11 shows her learning from God that religious life would be her ‘martyrdom’, while painting 39 and many references in the Lives speak of her learning that joyful acceptance of her trials rather than a public death would give God the greatest pleasure.[30]

Paintings 16-19 show her engaged in apostolic work, while painting 30 picks up the martyrdom theme once more with Mary understanding that this apostolic vocation for women was of equal value to God and the Church as the mystical life or martyrdom itself.[31]  These visual images of martyrdom and the high value of apostolic religious life even when compared with the holiness of the cloister are a powerful articulation of her followers’ faith in the founding grace given to Mary Ward.  Painting 27 shows Mary meditating on the name of Jesus and being shown a soul ‘adorned with great glory’, modelled after Christ himself.  The Ignatian resonances of this painting cannot be ignored and confirm the strength of the early sisters’ identification of themselves with the founding charism of the Society of Jesus. It would not have been prudent to emphasise this in writing after Mary’s death, and we find little that is explicit in this regard.  In fact later generations of sisters conformed to more monastic models of religious life, moderating the Ignatian structures and freedom of spirit which Mary Ward envisaged. Nevertheless the emphasis in the Painted Life on spiritual liberty and freedom from disordered attachment to the protection gained from money or secular power or ecclesial influence clearly has its roots in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and finds its origin in Mary’s own spiritual writing and letters.[32]

What, then, is the living heritage which we share with the woman whom Pope Pius XII called ‘that incomparable woman, given to the church by Catholic England in her darkest and bloodiest hour’?[33] Her story and achievements are not only important for sisters of the two congregations who consider her their founder.[34] She holds a vision for anyone seeking to find spiritual freedom and their own voice and space in a church which still, in many ways, would appear to prefer them to stay quietly at home.  She holds it for the men who are our companions in offering a future full of hope and a vision of glory to the voiceless of our world.  This is the child to whom we are giving birth, rather than merely wearing Mary Ward’s hat.

Fr. John Morris was a nineteenth-century Jesuit who fought, together with Mother Joseph Edwards, Mother Catherine Chambers and others to rehabilitate Mary Ward.  Shortly before his death he wrote in response to Mother Joseph’s suggestion that he must be getting tired of the struggle to break the silence about Mary Ward. ‘Do not say that I must be quite tired of the whole story.  I shall never be tired of Mary Ward and I hope she will not be tired of me’.


[1] Margaret Mary Littlehales, Mary Ward: Pilgrim and Mystic, (Burns & Oates, London, 1988), pp. 253-257.

[2] Desmond Forristal, The First Loreto Sister: Mother Teresa Ball 1794-1861, (Dominican Publications, Dublin, 1994), p. 25 and Mary Wright, Mary Ward’s Institute: the Struggle for Identity, (Crossing, Sydney, 1997), p. 134

[3] See David Wallace, Strong Women: Life, Text and Territory, 1347-1645 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 133-134 and Gillian Orchard, Till God Will: Mary Ward through her Writings, (Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1985), p.65.

[4] See Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, pp. 21-2.

[5] Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4. 34. 5-7.

[6] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, p. 290

[7] Orchard, Till God Will, p. 44

[8] Jesuit John Gerard was a major supporter, attributed with having lent Mary his copy of the Jesuit Constitutions from which she drew the third, final and most Ignatian plan for her Institute, while providing for independent governance in respect for Ignatius’s wishes.  Something of a loose cannon, his lack of prudence was to cause Mary Ward’s sisters considerable trouble.  Gerard’s support did not survive the suppression of the Institute.  See Philip Caraman, ed., John Gerard: the Autobiography of an Elizabethan, (London, Longmans, 1951), Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, pp. 542-548, Henriette Peters, Mary Ward: a World in Contemplation, trans. by Helen Butterworth, (Leominster, Gracewing, 1994), pp. 218-221 and Wetter, Under the Shadow pp. 23-25 and 35-36.

22 Orchard, Till God Will, pp. 48-50, 69 and Peters, A World in Contemplation, pp. 121-122, 145-157, 468 n.2.

[9] Orchard, Till God Will, pp. 48-50, 69, Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 2, p.326, 1, pp. 664-66 and Peters, A World in Contemplation, p. 468-9.

[10] See Kenworthy-Browne, A Briefe Relation, p. 114 and Elizabeth M. Makowski, Canon Law and Cloistered Women: Periculoso and its commentators 1298- 1545 (Washington, Catholic University of America Press, 1997), pp. 40, 46

[11] See Painted Life #21, 24, 25. I am grateful for this insight by a student of the Painted Life and Anglican priest, Stuart Owen.

[12] See ibid 4 and 6 and Kenworthy Browne, A Briefe Relation, pp. 5-6; 50-51

[13] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, p.359.

[14] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, pp. 604-5 and Peters, A World in Contemplation p. 332.

[15] See the report from archpriest William Harrison to the Holy See in Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, pp.521-28 and Littlehales, Pilgrim and Mystic, pp. 253-257.

[16] Kenworthy- Browne, The Briefe Relation, p.28

[17] Peters, World in Contemplation, pp.252-3, 577.

[18] See Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 1, pp.402, 540.

[19] See

[20] See Kenworthy-Browne, A Briefe Relation, p.xiv

[21] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 2, pp.324-27

[22] Kenworthy Browne, A Briefe Relation, p.28.

[23] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung,2; pp.170 and 175, 3; pp. 230-2. See also Kenworthy Browne, A Briefe Relation, p.49

[24] Orchard, Till God Will, pp. 95-96

[25] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung,1, pp. 363-4

[26] Jn.21:18-19 and Painted Life #4, 31, 50

[27] Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung, 2, p.44-5, 81-2

[28] Painted Life #8, 26, 37

[29] Orchard, Till God Will pp.49-50 and Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung,1, pp. 521-28, 660-1, 762-65. See also pp. 778-9, part of the remarkable testimony of ‘Sister Dorothy’, an otherwise anonymous ‘Jesuitess’ living clandestinely in England.

[30] Cf. Kenworthy Browne, A Briefe Relation, p.76-7, 91-2.

[31] See Painted Life #10, 11, 30.

[32] Sp. Exx. #136, Dirmeier, Mary Ward und ihre Gründung,1,pp. 290-1 and Painted Life #31, 32, 37, 38, 47.

[33] See John Saward, John Morrill and Michael Tomko.eds., Firmly I Believe and Truly: The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England 1483-1999, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 187

[34] The Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto sisters).  See Mary Wright, Mary Ward’s Institute: the Struggle for Identity (Sydney,

Crossing, 1997)